San Francisco to dot-com developers: No more

Voters pass anti-growth measure Proposition L by a slim margin.

By Andrew Leonard
Published November 8, 2000 2:01PM (EST)

No more dot-com gentrification, San Francisco's voters said Tuesday. With all the precincts reporting, the final vote tally was 120,695 for and 117,216 against a ballot proposal that will effectively halt new office development in such neighborhoods as the Mission District and South of Market.

Proposition K, a much milder anti-growth measure sponsored by San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, was defeated.

Marie Jones, director of economic development for the San Francisco Partnership, said: "Prop. L is not going to solve the problem of housing costs, nonprofit arts displacement or traffic. These are complex problems that require real community planning. Unfortunately, the passage of L will lead to job loss and business displacement."

Victorious supporters of the measure, such as Debra Walker, a Mission District painter and community activist, insist that their measure is not anti-dot-com, it's anti-developer: "What's happened is that real estate interests have artificially accelerated the prices, and people can't afford it, including the dot-com companies. You don't just build yourself out of what is perceived to be a supply and demand crisis, anymore than you print more money when you have a bad economy."

The passage of anti-growth measure Proposition L added a new chapter to San Francisco's long history of progressive politics. But whether Proposition L's passage will have an impact on San Francisco's dot-com economy is, ironically, almost a moot question.

Even as voters were going to the polls, news began to spread of the latest round of dot-com closures. San Francisco's voters may have put an end to new office development just as the new economy locomotive finally ran out of steam.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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